belarus protest
© Tut.By via REUTERS
Opposition supporters carry a historical white-red-white flag of Belarus as they take part in a rally against police brutality following protests to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus September 13, 2020.
The director of Russia's foreign intelligence service (SVR) has accused the US of fomenting anti-government demonstrations in Belarus. Spy boss Sergey Naryshkin says Washington provided about $20 million to bolster the opposition.

His comments came as the president of Belarus said that - what he called - the orchestrators of the current events planned their tactics in accordance with the classic American textbook of color revolutions. Speaking on Wednesday, Alexander Lukashenko added that the turmoil had been plotted by Western countries for over a decade.

"According to the available information, the United States is playing a pivotal role in the current events in Belarus," Naryshkin alleged in a statement. "Though publically Washington tries to keep a low profile, once the massive street demonstrations began, the Americans stepped up funding to the Belarusian anti-government forces to the tune of tens of millions of dollars."

He stressed the obvious signs of Western involvement in the events in Belarus. "The demonstrations have been well organized from the very outset and coordinated from abroad," the SVR chief said. "It is noteworthy that the West had launched the groundwork for the protests long before the elections. The United States in 2019 and early 2020 used various NGOs to provide about $20 million for staging anti-government demonstrations."

The intelligence boss explained that the money was used to create a network of "ostensibly independent bloggers" and information accounts on social networks and to train activists for street demonstrations. "Some of them underwent training in Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine, where experienced US instructors coached them to stage 'non-violent' protests," Naryshkin said.

He remarked that "the United States is closely mentoring former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and other opposition activists, whom they try to present in the guise of 'popular leaders' and future top officials of a 'democratic Belarus.'"

"In its contacts with its European allies, Washington insists on increasing pressure on Minsk in order to force the legitimate authorities of Belarus to start a dialogue with the so-called Coordination Council on a 'handover of power,'" Naryshkin continued. "In fact it is a poorly camouflaged attempt to stage another color revolution and anti-constitutional coup, having nothing to do with the interests of the Belarusian people."

In separate comments, Lukashenko expressed similar sentiments. He said that over the past ten years the opposition had been meticulously preparing for the present crisis. "A step-by-step analysis of the events in the country reveals the true plans and tactics of the external aggressors of Belarus," state news agencBelTA quoted him as saying.

"In order to unmask them all at once, let us name the players. At the level of global centers this is above all the United States of America, more precisely - their network of foundations to support the so-called democracy," he alleged. "In the European continent the American satellites were the most active, including Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, and, unfortunately, our Ukraine."

Each of these countries played its part, Lukashenko stressed. "The Czech Republic for a long time [served] as a resource hub, Poland at first [served] as an incubator of media channels (Belsat, NEXTA, and others) and then - as a platform for alternative agencies in exile," he elaborated. "Lithuania, peeved by the BelNPP (Belarusian nuclear power plant - TASS) issue [served] as a battering ram of Belarusian-European relations. Ukraine, despite our constant support for it (for example, in the issues of territorial integrity and in many others), despite the spirit of our relationship, became the outpost of political provocations."

"Thus, we clearly see the subjects of this process, their middlemen and abettors," he continued. "The tactics of the masterminds was built in accordance with the classic American textbook of color revolutions by well-known Gene Sharp. Now we can look back and analyze in detail all stages of the scenario to destroy our country which we, fortunately, staved off and will never let happen," he added. "Trying to embroil the country in a lengthy political and economic crisis, the protest coordinators hand out instructions for economic resistance as they put it, or tax evasion, non-payment of utility bills, withdrawals from trade unions and so on."

Lukashenko didn't stop there. "The 2020 Belarusian scenario consists of an alloy of the most effective color [revolutions] techniques of destabilization which have been tested in a variety of countries. It is obvious that the stake is on the scale and duration of the protests, on wearing the strength down and on draining up resources," the long-time leader went on. "We know those in charge pursuing some goals in Belarus, so we do not relax and are ready to respond to any challenge."

Nationwide demonstrations have engulfed Belarus since the August 9 presidential election. According to the Central Election Commission's official results, Lukashenko won by a landslide, garnering 80.10 percent of the vote. His closest rival in the race, Tikhanovskaya, came second, with 10.12 percent, but she refused to recognize the election's outcome and left the country within days. The results are widely believed to have been falsified.

After exit polls were released, mass protests erupted in downtown Minsk and other Belarusian cities. During the early post-election period, the rallies snowballed into fierce clashes between protesters and police. Protests are being encouraged by the opposition's Coordination Council. In response, the Belarusian authorities have demanded that the unauthorized demonstrations be stopped.